He emphasized the importance of immigration enforcement in the workplace to liberate illegally occupied jobs for the millions of unemployed American citizens and legal immigrants who need them.
Judiciary panel’s New Year’s resolve, Politico, January 6, 2011, By Lamar Smith
Last Friday, millions of Americans made New Year’s resolutions. Some resolved to exercise, others resolved to spend more time with their families and still more resolved to continue their search for work.
With U.S. unemployment at 9.8 percent, Congress also has a New Year’s resolution. As Republicans take control of the House, we are resolved to cut government spending, promote economic growth and help generate jobs for American workers.
Unlike some New Year’s resolutions, this one won’t be abandoned in the first weeks of 2011. We understand that the midterm elections were a clear message to Congress to change course, and we are committed to restoring prudence to U.S. policies.
Our priority on the House Judiciary Committee is job creation and oversight. More than 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Yet 7 million illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. work force.
We could open up jobs for millions of U.S. workers if we just enforced immigration laws. Work site enforcement efforts ensure jobs go to unemployed citizens and legal immigrants. Unfortunately, enforcement has dropped by 70 percent in the past two years. And with less enforcement, the jobs magnet continues to encourage illegal immigration.
Promoting the use of E-Verify is another way we can help make sure scarce jobs go to legal workers. E-Verify is the federal government’s program that enables companies to hire legal workers by verifying the Social Security numbers provided by new employees. More than 225,000 employers, large and small, use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of applicants, and thousands of new businesses are signing up each month. We should expand this program.
Another priority is to create jobs for Americans by protecting the innovations that drive economic growth. Nearly 30 percent of U.S. workers are found in intellectual-property-related industries like health care, entertainment, renewable energy and information technology. Patents protect this intellectual property and encourage the creativity and innovation that generate jobs and increase productivity.
The theft of intellectual property now costs Americans billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. When inventors and businesses invest in research and development that results in patents, they have the right to benefit from their efforts. The U.S. economy also benefits by the jobs these patents create.
We need to improve our patent system to better protect intellectual property and help ensure that good patents are approved quickly. There is bipartisan support for needed revisions to our patent system, which has not been significantly updated in more than a half-century.
Another way to help American families is to make health care more affordable by passing lawsuit-abuse reform. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. medical malpractice suits are ”without merit,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. These frivolous lawsuits drive up costs.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lawsuit-abuse reform would save taxpayers $54 billion over the next decade. This would help American families struggling with health care costs and protect medical personnel overburdened by the cost of malpractice insurance.
In addition to promoting jobs, the Judiciary Committee will renew its focus on national security. In the past two years, there have been several serious terrorist attempts and one successful attack (at Fort Hood) on U.S. soil. The threat of terrorism has not diminished.
The rise of homegrown terrorism is something the administration must address. At the same time, we cannot become complacent about the threat from overseas. The Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba is the safest place to detain foreign terrorists engaged in a war against America. Releasing terrorists poses a serious threat to the United States and our allies. As the national intelligence director recently reported, 25 percent of released Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorist activities.
And we should treat foreign terrorists as enemy combatants. Trying enemy combatants captured overseas in civilian courts is unprecedented. Acts of war against the U.S. should not be treated as street crimes. Enemy combatants should be tried in military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.
As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I am committed to fair and reasonable oversight of the Obama administration. This is necessary to improve the executive branch’s operation and function and ensure that federal agencies are responsive to Americans. We must make sure that our laws are equally enforced, criminals are prosecuted and American communities are kept safe.
New Year’s resolutions are never easy. But Republicans are committed to responding to American voters’ demands for a more responsive and effective government.——Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.